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VR Digest: Morpheus content revealed;
Rift and Hololens hardware demystified

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VR Digest: A VR newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

written by Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) issue 21 – June 24, 2015
VR Digest: A Virtual Reality newsletter brought to you by Studio Transcendent

Virtual Reality invades E3

Rift and HoloLens hardware demystified

Tested.com reported on VR at E3 extensively, posting a 40-minute video featuring a hands-on with the Rift and Oculus Touch and interviews with Oculus vice president Nate Mitchell and co-founder Palmer Luckey. The whole video is worth watching.

“[The microphone is] behind the fabric,” Mitchell said, confirming a key social feature for the Rift.

UploadVR tested the tracking volume of two cameras with the Oculus Touch demo to see if room-scale VR is a possibility. It looks pretty solid (see here in a 53-second video), though how two cameras stack up cost-wise against Valve’s laser tracking is still a mystery. Ambient lighting will also affect the systems differently.

“It’s not designed really for your living room,” Mitchell said in the Tested video. “Would it work in your living room? Maybe. Depends on lighting conditions and sort of the distance between you and your TV.”

Meanwhile, buried inside a multi-hour E3 livestream video by Giant Bomb, Microsoft executives discussed how the company’s “technical marvel” camera technology is able to give people a sense of what HoloLens promises in games like “Minecraft”. However, in the same breath, they dashed any hopes HoloLens will be able to deliver a wide field of view in the first iteration. The relevant bit comes up at three hours and 12 minutes into the video.

“The field of view isn’t exactly final, but I wouldn’t say it’s gonna be hugely noticeably different either,” said Kudo Tsunoda, Microsoft vice president.
 

Sony Morpheus content revealed

Tested interviewed PlayStation’s Richard Marks (15-minute video) about Morpheus and went hands-on with several titles. The console VR system’s most intriguing feature is asymmetrical gameplay allowing some players to use traditional controllers to play on a TV against a player using the Morpheus.

“It’s kind of rendering two different views, one for the person in VR and one for all the other players on the television,” Richard Marks said.

RoadToVR summarized the various titles demonstrated on the Morpheus at E3, including “Summer Lesson” (tech demo trailer), “Futuridium VR” (trailer), “RIGS” (trailer), “Headmaster” (trailer), “Wayward Sky” (trailer) and “Battlezone” (trailer).
 

Bits

The prolific team at Tested also posted a hands-on video with StarVR and interviewed the Starbreeze team about its future plans for the ambitious new ultra-wide field of view headset.

DrashVR added narration to its “Titans of Space” educational experience for a $2.99 upgrade, but could only offer the feature on Cardboard as it is the only VR platform offering in-app purchases so far.

Big gaming companies like Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Take-Two are playing the waiting game with VR because of uncertainty that real money can be made with the technology, Bloomberg reported this week.

We haven't seen the commercial release of the hardware. We haven't seen commercial release of any software,” said Strauss Zelnick, chief executive officer of Take-Two, makers of Grand Theft Auto. We're intrigued. We're doing a lot of homework. We haven't made any announcements yet. I think it remains to be seen what that format is.

USA Today wrote about the social benefits of VR with the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, which is looking at how VR affects things like race discrimination or phobias.

How can I give you the muscle memory to learn how in a split second what to do to survive a (real) earthquake? said Jeremy Bailenson, the founding director of the Stanford lab. VR is very good for rare moments and impossible moments. What happens in a world where anything — the most intense thing that anyone has ever done physically — can happen to everyone at the push of a button?

Fast Company published a piece about the long-awaited arrival of VR at this month’s E3 conference.

We are always after what will amaze us. With VR, you can move your head and you can play. There is no barrier to entry. That’s what we like the most in VR, said Yves Guillemot, the CEO of Ubisoft. The sensation it gives you and the fact that you can play without having too many things to control. If it works, then we want to be there.

In a Medium post VR veteran Tony Parisi asks an obvious question where is the dedicated mobile VR appliance from a major manufacturer?

The display, headset and brain are all in one unit that’s basically a phone without the 4G. It can’t make calls, but it can do WiFi to download everything.

Several smaller companies are pursuing that goal. At E3, Gameface demonstrated its latest prototype and announced it would be supporting the OpenVR standard.

Wraparound photos app 360° View by Getty Images launched for the Gear VR and will be available for Oculus' consumer version next year.

In a Reddit post the creators of dungeon crawling game “Crystal Rift” give kudos to Vive and Oculus Touch for adding hands to their experience.

There's just something 'anchoring' about having the ability to 'touch' the world - or at least poke it with a stick. It's endearing how universal the impulse to poke things with sticks is. You're imagining poking something with a stick now, and it's making you happy.”

JauntVR announced it will be receiving early access to Google's Jump, which is a 360 stitching technology and camera system. It’s unclear what the announcement means for Jaunt’s own camera and stitching technologies.  

Crytek released official Oculus Rift integration for CryEngine. Version 3.8.1 is now available and includes many other enhancements.

Crytek also announced it is working on a VR game called Robinson: The Journey, in which an unfortunate young spacefarer finds themselves stranded on a planet inhabited by dinosaurs. An impressive demo was shown at E3 in which players make their way up a cliff populated by unhappy pterodactyls.
 

E3 Roundup

Here is a summary of the previously unseen VR games and experiences shown at E3:

Oculus

Edge of Nowhere

Chronos

Damaged Core

VR Sports Challenge

Esper

AirMechVR
 

Crytek

Robinson: The Journey
 

Ubisoft

Rabbids VR Ride
 

Starbreeze

The Walking Dead

Sony

Trackmania Turbo

The London Heist: Chapter 2

Summer Lesson

SEGA feat. Hatsune Miku Project

Harmonix Music VR

The Playroom VR

Futuridium VR

SuperHyperCube

Godling

Rigs: MCL

Battlezone

Headmaster

Wayward Sky

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